A few last months have been difficult for all of us because of the worldwide pandemic. Besides worries about the health and economic issues, we still have the first world dilemmas: to travel or not to travel?

In this post, I interview a couple of my fellow digital nomads that took the risk and decided to travel in Europe during the pandemic. Read their thoughts and see for yourself if you should be worried about traveling during COVID.

Introduce yourself: how does your everyday life look like, what do you do in your life, and how your European trip looked like?

Hi. 🙂 We are Marta and Bartek, we travel the world and capture videos of our trips under the name Chilimango. Between abroad travels, we live in Gdynia, Poland, with our two cats – Jadwiga and Ryszarda. Bartek deals with programming, and Marta with real estate and developing the project Chilimango. 🙂

We have just come back from a 2-month trip to Western Europe. We packed bicycles into a small 21-years-old car and moved on. In a journey, we conduct a life of digital nomads, so we travel mainly in a “slow” style. But we managed to see Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Andorra, and a bit of Germany.

France, two people sitting at rocks on the Bretagne's coast
Bretagne’s coast, France

For the beginning: weren’t you afraid to leave in such an unstable moment?

Yes and no. 🙂 We had the biggest concern about what if a situation in a country we will currently be in will drastically change and we will be stuck in there for several days of quarantine. However, traveling with a car gives a lot of flexibility, so if a risk like this would occur, we could quickly and efficiently come back to Poland. Eventually, we didn’t catch up on any quarantine. 🙂

At the beginning of the epidemic, coronavirus caused us a lot of stress and concerns. Probably like everyone, we didn’t know how huge the scale of this pandemic will be. However, after a few weeks, or even months of following the information on this topic, we understood that slowly we need to come back to life. And one of the main aspects of our life is traveling.

How in practice does local care for safety in various European countries look?

Mostly, it looks very similar to Poland. Wearing a mask in closed public spaces and public transport, limits of visitors in museums and restaurants, obligation to sanitize hands at each corner, and keeping a safe distance.

Only in Andorra, we came across with a duty of wearing a mask outside, unless you ride a bike. We were moving around mostly with bikes, so this rule did not consider us that much.

An interesting fact is that in Germany, there is no limit for restaurant guests. Instead, together with the menu, you get a short questionnaire to fill up with your personal data and the time of your visit to the restaurant. If it would turn out that someone was infected with COVID-19, the rest of the people would be informed about it.

In which country people care the most about their safety?

Among the countries that we have been to, both Luxembourg, Belgium, and France very seriously treat the safety rules. While in Poland many people wear masks under the nose, in the mentioned countries there is no looking for shortcuts but respecting the determined regulations.

In one of the French hotels, the reception didn’t want to check us in because we weren’t wearing a traditional mask but the face scarfs. Besides this, in France, in front of every shop entrance, there is a person who cares about every client to sanitize hands.

Andora landscape, near Cabana de Siscaro
Near Cabana de Siscaro, Andorra

And in which country people ignore the danger the most?

In Poland. 😉 But to be serious: we are aware that Western Europe is better organized in many ways. And its citizens respect the rules more reliably than in our home country. We think that besides small towns, where there is more informality, the regulations are respected mostly the same.

Have you seen Dantesque scenes from apocalypse movies and related to COVID in any place?

Times of buying toilet paper for several years in stock are fortunately behind us! 🙂

We can calm you that nothing scary or worrying did happen to us. Even while passing borders, what is always connected with a little uncertainty, no one had checked our documents or measure the temperature.

Is traveling Europe by car safe in these times in your opinion?

The option of independet car trip is for us the most safe for sure. And if you take bikes with you, you’ve got a perfect combination. During those two mothns we only once used the public transportation and it was only because it was raining. In any other case we’ve been traveling by car or bikes.

Traveling by car means freedom and flexibility. You can change your trip schedule each day. Our original plan was to go to Spain but because of big disease outbreaks in the Northern part of the country, we decided not to take the risk and stay longer in France.

Also, a car gives a lot of peace because in any case, you can always quickly come back to the country.

Which country do you recommend the most to spend the car vacation?

It’s a difficult question because the situation in Europe is very dynamic. There where today is safe, tomorrow can be different. The important is to follow the current situation.

From all the countries we visited during our journey, Andorra enchanted us the most – the mountain gem squished between France and Spain. But if you want to go there, a better plan to see other places on the go because a route from Poland to Andorra it’s more than 2000 kilometers!

Two people in the French vineyard near Saint Emilion
French vineyards near Saint-Emilion

What kind of tips you have for people who can’t wait to travel again but are not sure how to start because of the pandemic?

It’s good to join travel groups on Facebook. You can ask their various questions and get first-hand information about the situation in a country you wanna visit. But it won’t replace following the formal information. While being abroad you must know if the border won’t be closed in a while or you won’t be sent to an obligatory quarantine.

In times of pandemic, the world looks different. But we need to learn how to live in it. It’s true that we need to constantly follow the world situation or wear a mask on a hot day. But in return, you get the possibility to see beautiful places that are much less crowded than before the pandemic.

Strengthening words for passionate travelers, please.

It could seem that a few-week abroad trip these days is a bad idea. But it cames out that with avoiding big groups of people, on the road we had a contact with a fewer number of people than while being in Poland.

First of all, you need to keep common sense and remember that we travel to discover the world and not to avoid a virus waiting for us at every corner. The best thing to do is to follow the safety rules of the given country and take it easy at the same time. Don’t stress too much. After all, stress decreases immunity. 😉

You can follow Chilimang above all on their Youtube channel (in Polish, with English subtitles) where they regularly share their travel videos. Besides this, I recommend you to follow their Instagram profile and the news about their new travel plans and a few other interesting topics!

And below you can watch one of their videos made during this trip.

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